Things to do in Portland

With the competition only a few weeks away, participants from all over the world are starting to plan their trip to Portland, Oregon. Whether it is your first time or you’re a frequent visitor, Portland offers a unique atmosphere. Home to mouth-watering restaurants, beautiful parks and gardens, great microbreweries, and fascinating entertainment, Portland is sure to prove a vibrant city.

In the off hours of the competition, here are some things to check out while in Portland:

Japanese Gardens: This beautiful and tranquil garden is proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan with 5.5 acres nestled in the scenic west hills of Portland.

Portland Art Museum: The Portland Art Museum is the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest and is internationally recognized for its permanent collection and ambitious special exhibitions. Its various exhibits offer art that is relevant to any visitor.

Oregon Zoo: This fun place of discovery and fun is home to animals from all corners of the world, including Asian elephants, Peruvian penguins and Arctic polar bears. The zoo provides award winning education programs and encourages visitors to understand and experience the natural world.

Portland Opera: The Portland Opera inspires, challenges and uplifts its audience of all ages by creating productions of high quality that celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera. In April, the featured performance is “Galileo.”

Keller Auditorium: The auditorium, located on 1111 Southwest Broadway in Portland, is part of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. Billy Elliot, showing in the month of April, is a spectacular show awarded with ten 2009 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

There are many elaborate and authentic restaurants to choose from while in Portland. If you are looking for a spectacular view overlooking Portland, elegant food and a superb happy hour, then Portland City Grill may be your place. If you are looking for a more casual and energetic experience in addition to flavorful, gourmet cuisine, then Matador, the Tex-Mex tequila bar, may be more your style. If you want a completely unique dining experience, then check out Brazil Grill, Portland’s first Churrascaria, involving Brazilian traditional cooking methods where twelve meats and gourmet sausages are carved from swords and allow guests to try everything the house has to offer.

No matter what your dining style and mood, the famous and highly rated Portland Food Carts are a necessary stop for any out-of-towner.

Also, rated the top restaurants in 2009 were Lucky Strike, Beast, Park Kitchen, Syun Izakaya, Bunk Sandwiches, Clyde Common, Nostrana, Paley’s Place, Laurelhurst Market and Nong’s Khao Man Gai.

Now go enjoy the City of Roses!

Written By Tara Gremillion

UpStart Bootcamp

I saw a Twitter post recently that got me thinking about the exciting elevator pitch round soon to take place at the 20th annual New Venture Championship. “5 tips for crafting a killer elevator pitch” tweeted by @upstartbootcamp was an informational article with smart recommendations for nailing elevator pitches. Check out the other posts on the UpStart Bootcamp blog also offering great tips for business plans here.

About UpStart Bootcamp

Upstart Bootcamp is an online school helping entrepreneurs build a successful foundation for their startup businesses. David Ronick and Jennifer Houser founded the company; two entrepreneurs who share a passion for building new ventures and helping other entrepreneurs succeed. The old versus the new “rules” of entrepreneurship had a large influence on why the two founders decided to create UpStart.

Old rules – A number of years ago, the old rules were the only rules. Money was cast toward business plans with unproven results and questionable advancement. If a startup business required a change in direction, it took painfully long amounts of time to change course and redevelop. Any technology began from scratch, which was expensive, and getting attention from potential customers was difficult and time consuming.

New rules– Luckily, times have changed. The new rules are in place allowing business plans to take flight more efficiently and with much less capital. Social media is used as a tool for consumer attraction. Any needed technology can be rented, saving money and time. It is part of UpStart’s goal as a company to help entrepreneurs learn how to take advantage of the new rules of entrepreneurship so they can build the best foundation for their new ventures easier and faster.

UpStart Educational Materials

As any MBA student competing in the New Venture Championship knows, presenting the plan during a pitch deck is what persuades potential investors. “Hit the Deck,” written by UpStart co-founder David Ronick, is a highly recommended guidebook all about the pitch deck. The book contains numerous tips and tools for presenting the finest business plans, as well as informational Q &As and numerous interviews with successful entrepreneurs/investors.  Other educational materials offered on the UpStart website include referrals for professional service providers and private entrepreneurial coaching.

Written by Hannah Moore

Are You Ready For The Next Step?

Teams have submitted their Intents to Compete/Qualifying Executive Summaries and are anxiously waiting to hear if they were one of 20 teams chosen to advance to the semifinal round. On March 10, Oregon NVC will announce the teams selected for the semifinals.

Each plan selected for the semifinal round is evaluated and rated according to the judges’ criteria on the NVC web page. Semifinal plans are then seeded into five tracks with a goal of achieving balanced tracks across all teams. For more information visit the NVC website and FAQ page.

Once teams are chosen for the semifinals, each team is required to submit its business plan by March 24.

As your team waits to hear whether you will advance to the semifinal round, ask yourself, “What steps are we taking to prepare for the round?” Here are some self-evaluation questions for your group to ponder:

  • Are you ready for the next step if selected for the semifinals?
  • What are the areas in which you can most improve?
  • How fluid is your pitch? Would everyday people understand your idea?
  • Is your business plan compelling but thorough?
  • Does your slideshow look appealing and provide judges with the best information?

Always follow the guidelines and requirements posted on the Oregon NVC website.

Written By Nic Corpora

Sponsor Spotlight

At New Venture Championship, sponsors make all the difference between a small-scale competition and the production that we are able to put on. Columbia Sportswear, the title sponsor of NVC, recently displayed its dedication to the competition and educating the students who run it. 

Allen Hall Public Relations and Allen Hall Advertising, student-run agencies based out of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, are given an opportunity like no other through NVC. The competition provides students in each of these agencies the chance to gain hands-on experience in the public relations and advertising worlds. Both agencies assemble teams of students to manage NVC’s brand across the media.

A few weeks ago, students on the NVC accounts at AHPR and AHA were granted yet another opportunity to step up to the plate—they were asked to present the competition’s budget to Tim Boyle, CEO of our title sponsor, Columbia Sportswear.

While presenting to Mr. Boyle, it became clear to us that the graduate students who participate in NVC must set aside hours of careful planning for their presentations to the judges. After speaking in front of Mr. Boyle and a room full of peers, I can confidently say that we took away several helpful tips:

  1. 1. Preparation is key. We only had one week to pull together a respectable presentation for Mr. Boyle, so we felt the heat. I can only imagine what NVC hopefuls feel as the anticipation for the competition builds. By outlining a list of talking points and filling in the blanks with your own knowledge of your business plan, you will not sound rehearsed or robotic.
  2. 2. Be mindful of your audience. Presenting to a sponsor of NVC was very similar to what the actual contestants will be doing. Be aware of who you are speaking to, be sure to make plenty of eye contact and allow for questions. Proper annunciation and a steady pace are key, and it is important to avoid commercial-y, sing-song tones.
  3. 3. Anticipate. This point is aimed at the question-and-answer portion of a presentation. At the end of our allotted time, Tim Boyle had several in-depth, thoughtful questions for us about the budget for NVC and where certain funds were going. Although we had not prepared for his level of interest in what we were saying, we knew the account well enough to field any fly balls. For those presenting at NVC, it is crucial to brainstorm ahead of time about what might be asked of you and your idea so you can prepare the best possible response.

In addition to Columbia, other NVC’s other sponsors are Tektronix, Blue Star Gas, Kryptiq and Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. Each sponsor is affiliated with a particular round of the competition, and its employees and executives are encouraged to attend each event. NVC looks forward to future partnerships with these sponsors, and is excited about potential opportunities for new companies to join the team!

Written By Nicole Hyslop

Tips For the Young Entrepreneur: Preparing for a future business plan competition

As a young high school student, a prestigious business competition like New Venture Championship might seem too intimidating and you might never feel like you could compete at that level. While the pressure, critique and intensity of the plan is not for the faint of heart, there are ways that a high school student with a growing interest in business can prepare for a business plan competition in the future.

  1. Get involved in business clubs. Most high schools provide clubs for many different groups and interests. If you are interested in business, find a business club and get involved. Do not just become a member by signing up but never going to the meetings; instead, let the club be a full immersion into the world of business and embrace the opportunities that the club provides. If there is an opportunity within the club to take field trips pertaining to business and networking opportunities, take it. If there is an opportunity to take on a leadership position within the club, take it. Even if you think that you may be too shy to handle leadership, take it on with full force. Anyone can be a great leader with the confidence to do so. If you practice, you will get better.
  2. Take a speech and debate class. A huge aspect of the business plan competition is the presentation. If a team has great presentation skills and can demand the attention of the audience, their plan is perceived to be better. Some people are natural speakers, but the rest of us need practice and a little coaching. Taking a speech and debate class in high school will help coach you to a better presenter. Although the class may seem scary initially, it will pay off to have the type of practice and instruction that makes you the best speaker you can be.
  3. Job shadow or get an internship. Many businesses offer an internship program that can provide real world business experience. Although in each business class you can learn a lot about business plans and marketing, what you learn in the real world by watching, observing and interacting in a business environment provides an experience unlike any classroom. Job shadowing can help you understand what a business professional actually does and help you gauge the standards and abilities you may need for the business world.
  4. Study great business professionals. It is important to have role models in your field of interest. That is why it is vital that you study other business professionals and see what made them so successful. It is also just as important to pay attention to business professionals’ mistakes in order to better prepare yourself to not follow the same path. Research, research, research. Do your best to truly understand the business world and what makes an idea phenomenal.

Written By Tara Gremillion

    Q&A With Mark Wall, Adjunct Professor at University of Oregon School of Business

    Before Mark Wall became a professor at U of O, he was an MBA student trying to take his career to the next level. In his first year, Wall joined Aqua Essence, a team competing in the New Venture Championship whose product used nano-molecules to strip arsenic out of drinking water.

    Q: What events led to your decision to pursue your MBA?

    I was an environmental consultant for 13 years: five years as a private consultant and eight years as an environmental manager with Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB).  I wanted a career change in 2001 and faced a tough job market. I couldn’t compete for jobs against others who had an MBA. I lived in Eugene and it was an opportunity to improve my employability.

    Q: Why did you decide to enter the New Venture Championship?

    My experience was unique. I was a first-year MBA student with experience in the water industry. Aqua Essence was looking for fresh eyes to take their business plan to the next level.  I had management experience as a consultant but not senior management. Part of management and entrepreneurship is bringing everything together. I’m a learn-by-doing type of person. Competing in a business plan competition provided context and understanding to what I learned in the classroom. The New Venture Championship provided a real-life application of bringing all the elements of business together.

    Q: How successful was your team?

    Aqua Essence placed second at NVC and qualified for the MOOT CORP competition at University of Texas at Austin, where we placed fourth.  The caliber of teams at both competitions was impeccable. We were prepared for MOOT CORP because of the quality of education and success of the Oregon program.

    Q: What value did you receive from the competition?

    It certainly gave me a competitive edge. I had tangible applications to use later in job interviews to demonstrate overcoming problems and creating success. An MBA with experience is more desirable than an MBA without experience. Most MBA students are engaged in the concept of business, but not the reality. The New Venture Championship provided that reality. As an educator, that real-life experience provides the context from which I teach.

    Q: What did you think of the quality of judges?

    The judges are business professionals who bring a level of expertise and insight that you can’t get elsewhere. The opportunity to engage in dialogue with CEOs and top management from international companies greatly contributed to our success at MOOT CORP. The feedback and questions from judges gave us insight into how they look at the world and hearing why those questions were asked took NVC to the next level. Many of the judges look at business plans professionally and bring their passion and expertise to the competition.

    Q: What would you tell someone who is considering NVC?

    The process is smooth, clean and clear. The caliber of judges is phenomenal. The prizes and opportunities are meaningful, especially for someone who wants to be in the Northwest. From a global trade perspective, the Northwest is the gateway to the Pacific. The interaction with judges and peers provides touch points to your career that are invaluable. I still keep NVC on my resume. The best use of my time as an MBA student was spent doing the New Venture Championship.

     

    Written By Nic Corpora

    Frequently Made Website Mistakes

    We all have an opinion about how a good website should look.  When your up-and-coming business is ready to launch a website, it is vital to recognize site visitors’ likes and dislikes. Simple factors can contribute substantially to the number of hits the site receives.

    Have a look at these common website mistakes and a few tips on how to avoid them:

    Long pages & long sentences

    • People hate scrolling too long to find what they are looking for. The longer it takes to get your point across, the more likely it is that website viewers will get distracted. Avoid this by creating several tabs or pages within your site, and consider adding a search bar.
    • Long sentences have the same effect as never-ending pages. Concise sentences help visitors stay focused and intrigued.

    Technology overuse

    • Many businesses go overboard with different technologies in an effort to make their site look nifty.
    • Avoid Flash intros and tacky background audio. These can cause potential customers to leave the page within a few seconds. They can take a long time to load, and they generally take away from the website’s main purpose.

    Not giving instructions

    • Whether you want visitors to participate in a survey, sign up for a newsletter, or follow you on Twitter, show them where and how to do so in a clear and distinct way.
    • It’s also user-friendly to have multiple clickable links in many places around the site. Consider having a “HOME” link or a clickable logo on the side bar, the bottom of the page, and the top navigation bar, that always takes you back the main page.

    Not changing colors for visited links

    • When your links don’t change color after they’ve been clicked, it’s easy for visitors to get disoriented when navigating the website.
    • Make it easier for users to know which pages they have viewed by changing the colors of visited links.

    No About or Contact page

    • An About page can provide the background of your business or more information about what the company does.
    • Always include a Contact page so that people who have questions about your business or website have a way of getting answers. Providing a business address, phone number, email address, and other contact information is helpful for users and adds a degree of trust and accountability to your company.

    No credible domain name

    • People who see a web address similar to http://www.mydomain.freehost.com are going to assume you are unprofessional. Purchase a domain name that will be easy to find, and do not publish your site to the web until you have one.

    “Under Construction”

    • This is frequently seen when a website is going through changes; it’s a statement you never want people to come across. Similar to the lack of a domain name, visitors could question whether you are serious about your business and its portrayal on the web.
    • If your website isn’t active, do not make it available to the public at all.

    Written By Hannah Moore